How a DIY Divorce can go Wrong
In the last four years ‘quickie’, online and DIY divorces have become increasingly popular. This popularity is the result of separating couples looking to save time and money on their divorce process.
Its a trend that is slowly becoming a divorce solicitor’s worst nightmare. DIY divorces often end up causing a great amount of stress, frustration and confusion for the separating couple.
Divorces finalised quickly, without setting final agreements on paper often cause further legal issues down the line.
What are ‘Quickie’ Divorces
The terms ‘quickie’ or ‘DIY’ divorce refers to the process of getting a divorce certificate online at a low price.
You can complete a DIY divorce without mediation, assistance splitting assets or making arrangements for children.
Costs of a DIY Divorce
Some companies offering these types of divorces charge just £37 for a downloadable divorce paper.
What most couples seem to forget however, is that these online companies will only dissolve the marriage. This leaves all the legal aspects of the divorce completely unaddressed.
Obtaining a divorce certificate and arranging finances are two completely different processes. Without appropriate guidance from a divorce solicitor couples will find that sharing assets and planning ahead can become incredibly difficult.
The Case of Andrew McLeod-Baikie
One of the most notable cases involving an online divorce gone wrong would be the case of Andrew McLeod-Baikie.
In 2011, 52-year-old Andrew McLeod-Baikie from Pembrokeshire paid £600 for an online divorce from his wife Susan.
Two years later he married his second wife and posted the pictures of their glamorous wedding all over social media. What Mr McLeod-Baikie didn’t know unfortunately, was that he was still legally married to his first wife Susan. The divorce service he paid for did not provide him with the decree absolute.
When Susan came across pictures of her estranged spouse’s wedding on Facebook, she alerted the authorities. This resulted in the arrest of Mr McLeod-Baikie on the grounds of bigamy.
He was later ordered by the court to pay £800 in fees and dissolve his second, unlawful union.
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The Risks of DIY Divorces
When it comes to legal services, you truly do get what you pay for.
In many cases, the confusion of handling your own legal matters can easily lead to disputes arising regarding your finances, assets and children.
Even if you haven’t been married for long, didn’t have children and wish to split civilly, you will undoubtedly own something valuable that you don’t want you partner to receive. Your shared property, joint purchases including belongings such as cars or pets are just some examples of assets that you may want to clarify ownership of.
Legal Entitlements After a DIY Divorce
In a worst-case scenario, getting a DIY divorce before remarrying could leave your ex-spouse entitled to pursue future financial claims against you.
You may have a business that is profiting well or you may have recently won a large cash sum or received some inheritance that your ex then would still be entitled to. Instead of enjoying your new wealth you could be left fending off your ex’s brash claims on your newly gained assets.
Going to Court after a DIY Divorce
One of the main risks associated with DIY divorces is whether you can trust your ex-spouse to stick to their word, as online divorces do not enable you to formalise verbal agreements into writing.
In a situation where you must take your ex to court informal agreements will not work in your favour. A judge will always want to see evidence that you both agreed to the terms of your divorce.
The Case of Vince v Wyatt
This is another drastic case involving a hasty online divorce gone horribly wrong.
Ms Wyatt and Mr Vince married in 1981 and separated three years later, however they did not obtain a decree absolute until 1992.
Throughout the relationship the pair were new age travellers and had little money or assets. This led them to believe that getting a financial order with their divorce was unnecessary. However, by the late 1990’s, Mr Vince’s energy business had taken off and he had begun earning millions.
In 2011, Ms Wyatt sought an audacious claim of £1.9m from her ex-husband, despite him acquiring his wealth years after their separation.
To most people, including Mr Vince himself, the claim was bogus and far too late. However, the court ruled that Ms Wyatt was indeed entitled to claim on her ex-husband’s new wealth.
The end result saw Mr Vince granting his ex-wife a total of £300,000, which could have been easily avoided had the couple made an agreement on sharing assets and finances during their divorce.
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Failure to Finalise Agreements
Many divorcing couples who do not appoint a solicitor to manage the legalities of their split could later find themselves in an inconvenient situation.
A lack of expert advice could mean you were unaware of your rights during the divorce process and ultimately lead to some naïve decisions, especially in relation to inheritance, pensions and future tax implications.
Divorce solicitors will provide you with a much more accurate, timely and bespoke service in comparison to DIY divorce advisors.
Comparing the Costs of Online Divorces to Divorce Solicitors
An online divorce is cheap because it only covers the basics without any guidance. Once you have sought all the other required services individually, it’s probable that you will have paid the same amount or even more than you would have appointing a divorce solicitor.
If you plan to remarry in the future, the importance of getting your finances dealt with professionally only become even more significant.
AWH Divorce Solicitors
At AWH Solicitors we offer a wide range of services relating to family law; including mediation, divorce, child arrangements and financial settlement services on a competitive fixed fee basis.
We always work hard to keep family cases out of court and reach amicable decisions that best suit the needs of you and your family.Get in touch
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